Wednesday, May 1, 2019

NSTA 2019

I’m writing this on the plane home from St. Louis, and finally posting it weeks later. I have to admit that I was not excited about the fact that NSTA was in the Show-Me-State. This is my third NSTA conference, and it was one of the best organized conferences that I have attended. Don't get me started on the food! We ate at so many fantastic places in downtown St. Louis. Yummy!

The conference kicked off with a keynote from retired astronaut Scott Kelly. His message was inspirational and informative. “I was trained not to focus on the things you can control, not the things you can’t.”

The results of the “twin study” were released just the next day. It was pretty neat to have heard his story and then to see him on the morning news the next day.

On Thursday I also had a Technology Advisory Board meeting. I am excited to get to work with the team this year.

The plane ride home is always my favorite time to reflect on what I’ve learned and to make plans for how to implement changes in my classroom. I attended two sessions in particular that made me think.

I actually attended a session that I had seen last year. I love the idea of holding a School Maker Faire. The team from South Orangetown Central School District was back again this year to explain how they hold a district-wide Maker Faire. With all the maker-resources we have on our campus, I think it would be amazing to showcase the work we are doing to the entire school community. The presenters talked about how many of the projects are done in school and saved, but others are done by students at home and brought in.

I also really like the “Science Fair of Optimization.” The 4-6 grade team from Captain Samuel Douglass Academy told of their science fair woes and how they were able to make things easier for the teacher, but still meaningful for the students. The developed group projects based on a problem that requires students to apply the engineering design process. Students are presented with a scenario based on a problem facing a cleverly named fake company. As a group they must decide what variables to test to solve the problem. Each student then completes a “science fair project” where they test the variable using the controls set by the group. At the end, the students come together to create a prototype using the information they learned from the individual projects.

Our school has not had an elementary science fair in a while and we are trying to move in that direction. Once of the problems is helping student to understand variables. I love that this project focuses on identifying variables and creating a way to test a single variable. I look forward to talking with our upper elementary teachers about the idea.

Our Bringing Student Creativity to Life in the Elementary Science Classroom workshop presentation was one of the best that Cara and I have done. Just a few weeks ago we were panicked because HP Reveal Studio is in transition and we cannot create augmented reality projects using that website. At FETC, we learned about Thyng. We sent them a message and the responded almost right away. They have been great to work with and even stayed in the office late on a Friday to be “on-hand” during our workshop. The projects look great and we think they are going to be a great tool for our First Grade Garden next month.

The workshop was a lot of fun. We set up the green screen and demo-ed how simple it is to use the Green Screen app by DoInk. We were the last session of the day, but we had a nice crowd and got some great feedback.

Saturday morning Suzette joined us to add her middle school perspective to Transforming Your Science Classroom with Technology. It was an 8am session on a Saturday morning in a very large room.

We had a nice crowd and got some great feedback. After the session, a STEM Coordinator stopped us to ask questions. She said that her district had a lot of the tools and resources that we talked about, but that the teachers were not using them in a way that connects to the standards. One of the greatest compliments to me was the fact that beyond all the tools we told about, it was the way we used the tools that stood out to her.

We did have time to enjoy a little bit of the city. We walked to the Gateway Arch one evening.

We also made it to the Botanical Gardens and the St. Louis Zoo.

The biggest surprise of all though was the weather on Sunday.

We knew it was going to be cold and rainy, but the temperature dipped and we actually saw some snowflakes and winter mix. For three teachers from Florida, that’s a big deal!

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